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 Lightweight though often entertaining reflections on an obsession with beauty. Once a homely teenager, Siman (Pizza Face, 1991) is now a gay man obsessed with physical beauty. With his long-nosed friend, Dorothy, a lesbian Playboy editor, he embarks on a ``trip'' into the world of beauty as a way of resolving old feelings of exclusion. Along the way, Siman encounters the beautiful (female bodybuilder Lenda Murray; Playboy ``student bodies'' Amanda and Kelly; supermodels such as Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford) and their creators (plastic surgeons, photographers, and model-agency doyenne Eileen Ford--who notes forthrightly that modeling is about money, as well as about dreams). Many of the interviews are funny, especially one with Sy Sperling, president of the Hair Club for Men, which sells hair replacement systems; Sperling says he didn't give money to New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's last campaign because ``I don't want to promote a guy who is promoting the bald or covered look...I don't want people thinking this guy is a client.'' Siman also brings us through some of his own (not wholly successful) attempts to rid his face of acne scarring: silicone injections, dermabrasions, and a chemical peel (one doctor considers wrinkles a deformity). He has a lively style and is at his best when flippant, pointing out, for example, that straight, white-collar men didn't go to the gym until recently because they were afraid that muscles would make them look either working-class or gay. However, Siman's journey doesn't appear to have yielded any important ideas or provocative conclusions; indeed, wherever he attempts profundity, his prose gets murky, and some of his assumptions--that there is an objective standard of beauty, that the young are almost always more attractive than the old--are both conventional and downright silly. Underlying the tongue-in-cheek tone is the sense that Siman takes beauty all too seriously.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-671-89080-8
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Pocket
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1995